catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

The debtors prison in Sydney

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Followers of the Master and Commander series will recall that Captain Aubrey spent some time in debtors prison. This seemed to be a minimum security arrangement where visitors could mix freely with the inmates. The parents of Charles Dickens did some time and the whole family including the grandfather (but not Charles) lived in Marshalsea Prison for about six months.

Australia had much the same system at least up to the 1830s and this piece documents some of the arrangements, including the area in the vicnity of the prison, called ‘the Rules’ where the prisoners could live while formally remaining inside for debt. Debtors in the Rules were able to live almost normal lives, and to earn a living.

It is therefore ordered by the Court, that from and after the 1st day of March, in this present year, 1834, the rules of the prison in Sydney shall be comprised within the bounds following – that is to say, all that part of George-street, exclusive of the houses on each side thereof, which lies in front of this prisoner, and leads to Essex-street; so much of Essex street, exclusive of the houses on each side thereof as leads to Prince street; all that part of Prince street which lies between Argyle street at the one end, and the space leading to Charlotte Place, at the other end thereof, together with so much of the open space, called Charlotte Place as leads to St. Philip’s Church and the Scots Church, and also all the houses (excepting public houses) on each side of Prince-street, and the said respective Churches. And it is further ordered, that all tavern and victualling houses, and ale houses licensed to sell spirituous liquors, or of public entertainment, shall be excluded out of, and form no part of the said rules of this prison.


Written by Admin

April 14, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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